Toyota South Africa Motors’ R363 million investment in a new parts distribution warehouse in Kempton Park and recent investment of R70m in the local assembly of the Ses’fikile taxi in Durban represent the first two steps in its new “full-scale investment programme”.
Johan van Zyl, Toyota SA’s president and group chief executive, confirmed this yesterday at the official opening of the first phase of the parts distribution warehouse, but declined to comment on the company’s future investment plans.
“As they get approved, we will make the announcement.
“There are quite a few coming,” he said.
He said the new facility “builds a very good foundation for our next [investment] phase because one of its key success factors over the past 32 years had been its ability to offer exceptional customer service and product support”.
Although the minibus assembly line and the parts distribution warehouse involved relatively small investments, these investments were significant in many ways.
The first phase of the plan to localise the production of Quantum and Ses’fikile minibuses resulted in the first locally assembled Quantum rolling off a dedicated line at its production plant in Prospecton.
These investments followed Toyota SA’s R8 billion, five-year investment programme that grew its plant to a capacity of 220 000 units a year, funded the construction of a new paint facility and generally upgraded its facilities.
The two new investments were still significant because they signalled Toyota SA’s continued support for full-scale vehicle manufacturing and export in South Africa and was “step one and step two in our new full scale investment programme that will build on the previous programme’s success”.
These investments were also evidence of Toyota SA, as the South African market leader, setting the standard for investing in and developing the motor industry and of its successful utilisation of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP), which is set to conclude at the end of this year, and its belief in the framework set by the Automotive Production and Development Programme to be implemented from next year.
Van Zyl said the parts distribution facility held more than 2.2 million items. There were 110 000 different parts and components worth more than R350m that supported 268 local suppliers, which was important in light of future plants to develop the local component supplier industry.
The facility provides 39 000m2 of storage space and a further 3 000m2 of offices.
A further 38 000m2 of warehouse space will be added in the second phase development of the facility, which is due to be completed by 2015 and will make it the largest facility of its kind in Africa.
With a staff complement of about 400 employees, the warehouse is a key component of Toyota SA’s dedication to employment in South Africa.
Mathodzi Rathumbu, the chief director for economic planning in Gauteng, said “this occasion was testimony of our belief that with a durable partnership between the government and private sector, Gauteng province can become a compelling destination for automotive investment”.
Yutaka Yoshizawa, the Japanese ambassador in South Africa, said Japanese businesses were increasing their engagement with South Africa and there were now 108 Japanese companies in South Africa, providing 15 000 jobs.
Yoshizawa said Toyota SA was among them and making one of the most significant contributions to the South African economy, not only through employment in its own factory, but at plant suppliers, dealers and many other business partners.